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The Lonely God

Well, that was a very biblical episode, wasn't it? White angels and red devils dancing around on stage, a worker's wife thinking the Empire State Building is like 'a spire reaching into heaven' (like the Tower of Babel, maybe?) and Daleks hanging out in a basement with random bursts of fire shooting out for no reason.

I noticed a bit of a white / red theme going on in the previous episode as well, actually, when two of the cars the Doctor dropped through had a red and a white inhabitant each living in them. Continuity = nice - and there's certainly a continuation from the last episode of the dissonance between overground and underground, privileged and desolate New York.

And what about the character names, eh?

Diagoras, a fifth-century BC philosopher famous for his atheism. Nice enough touch for a character primarily driven by money and ambition - especially if you apply a fairly modern definition of atheism. And how ironic that he should worship, and eventually become one of, the Dalek-devils. (ETA: although, as I just realised while talking to pickwick, since this is a two-parter perhaps in fact his character has yet to manifest its atheism, and the Diagoras-Dalek hybrid will do so next week, with important plot-advancing consequences?)

Solomon. 'Nuff said. Though I loved him being given the line, 'I'm not a fool, Doctor.'

Tallulah (who's very insistent about how her name should be spelt) I think must be based on Tallulah Bankhead - she's about the right age, although I think Bankhead's career was a bit further advanced in 1930. Famously, Bankhead said "I read Shakespeare and the Bible, and I can shoot dice. That's what I call a liberal education." Neat.

And Laszlo made me think most of all of Victor Laszlo, the fugitive resistance leader from Casablanca. Well, the Daleks with their 'Final Experiment' certainly carried resonances of the Nazis. So will his character live up to his namesake's role? Find out next week!

Comments

( 21 comments — Leave a comment )
sir_didymus
Apr. 21st, 2007 07:02 pm (UTC)
I thought the episode was fantastic, though the human dalek at the end should've had a scarier sounding voice and he should have said less ("I am the future" would have been enough) and I would have prefered robomen to pig slaves but aside from that I loved it.

I'd give it 5/5
strange_complex
Apr. 21st, 2007 07:28 pm (UTC)
I can't really see how being a humanoid, which can easily be shot, can't levitate, can't scan people's brains with its sucker, doesn't have a built-in gun, etc. can really be a step forward for the Daleks. Oh well - we'll see how it plays out next week.
taimatsu
Apr. 21st, 2007 07:42 pm (UTC)
Mmm, you're right - though presumably not all the Daleks' powers are integral to the robot shells rather than the creatures themselves - I can see the brain-scanning still perhaps working.
sir_didymus
Apr. 21st, 2007 07:53 pm (UTC)
It's a sci fi cliche that something half human is seen as better, I've seen it in tv series and films dozens of times.
strange_complex
Apr. 21st, 2007 08:28 pm (UTC)
Though for me, the thing that make new Who so good is that it reverse or plays with sci-fi cliches. I hope it'll do the same with this one next week.
taimatsu
Apr. 21st, 2007 07:25 pm (UTC)
Tallulah reminds me of the Jodie Foster character of the same name from 'Busgy Malone' right down (iirc) to the silver dress (though the Bugsy version was longer).
strange_complex
Apr. 21st, 2007 07:30 pm (UTC)
Ah! I've not seen that. So if the Doctor Who character is based on Tallulah Bankhead, then it may actually be at two removes - i.e. through Bugsy Malone first. Or maybe it's meant to recall both - I can't help but think the writers must have been aware of both the Shakespeare reference and the Bible reference in the quotation I linked to.
taimatsu
Apr. 21st, 2007 07:41 pm (UTC)
Oh, Bugsy Malone is an absolutely fantastic, wonderful film. Very much worth finding and watching, especially if you like musicals/silliness. It was a favourite when I was little.

It's possible Bugsy's Tallulah is based on Bankhead - I don't know enough about the latter to know. The Dr Who/Bugsy link makes sense because both are nightclub singers (with backing dancers, though Bugsy's are dressed in silver, not red!)
qatsi
Apr. 21st, 2007 07:38 pm (UTC)
Thanks for the references. I thought Diagoras must be a meaningful name.
strange_complex
Apr. 21st, 2007 08:39 pm (UTC)
Yeah, it stood out too much not to be didn't it? I'll admit I had to Google to remind myself who he was, though.
huskyteer
Apr. 21st, 2007 08:37 pm (UTC)
I spent the first half of the episode thinking it was 'Mr Diapers' rather than 'Mr Diagoras'. The former would be less clever, but amused me nonetheless.
strange_complex
Apr. 21st, 2007 08:40 pm (UTC)
Well, he does end up as the Daleks' new baby...
huskyteer
Apr. 22nd, 2007 04:31 pm (UTC)
ROFL!
(Anonymous)
Apr. 22nd, 2007 08:34 am (UTC)
I seem to recall all sorts of references to angels and gods in the last two series though, and nothing much really came of it, so I'm a little sceptical. Agree about Tallulah Bankhead.

"Well, the Daleks with their 'Final Experiment' certainly carried resonances of the Nazis."

I was actually thinking that maybe the Wemar Republic at the same period wouldn't have been a better setting..

- Kharin

strange_complex
Apr. 22nd, 2007 11:03 am (UTC)
nothing much really came of it

It's not that I expect anything to come of it as such, other than Good (obviously) winning out over Evil. I just think it's a nice way of presenting that story. Gives it a bit more depth.
ex_lark_asc
Apr. 22nd, 2007 11:39 am (UTC)
I'm actually getting really sick of RTD/new Who's ongoing thing for religious themery. We had the Satan Pit episodes, which were just poorly written and badly assembled, and now there's this in which the religious imagery is *completely* functionless - it's pure decoration. There's a *lot* of religious stuff going on in popular culture at the moment, there are Biblical horror films coming out as well as Mel Gibson's awful self-glorifying Jesus story, and I think it expresses a growing unease over the role of religion in global politics. It's understandable given America's current situation, particularly, but that doesn't mean it's effective or adds meaning; it's not just something you can pick up and paste on to give your story gravity. And in Who it's supremely redundant. The Daleks are the Daleks, FFS: they already *are* the bad guy, they don't need to be cast as the devil as well. Who has always worked on the sci-fi/fantasy model of good and evil, which is closely related to standard heroic fantasy; Christian assumptions are either deeply buried or entirely absent, and the "bad guys" are the ones who search for personal glory as opposed to expanding their own self-awareness and working to the good of society/the group/whatever isn't themselves. (Compare The Incredibles, in which the baddie is an egotistical, immature twit who is out for revenge and busily trying to be something he's not, and is eventually killed by his own pompous costuming).

So yeah, not a great ep from my POV; plot better than many, Tallulah a fantastic character, and so nice to hear Solomon (anyone, frankly) telling the doctor he's not Ghod's gift. But unnecessary pig-people (WHY pigs? Dogs would make far better slaves!) and heavy-handed attemtps to make the audience think "ooh it's naughty to play god".
strange_complex
Apr. 22nd, 2007 12:17 pm (UTC)
I wondered if the pigs were supposed to be related to the one which featured in Aliens of London (especially considering the similar structures of the two episodes' titles), but I've just Googled that, and it really isn't the same. Just an RTD obsession, I guess.

As for the religious stuff, I do understand your point, but for me I think it does add something, and expand upon themes earlier in the series. After all, those four Daleks have already been set up as a cult, and their emperor as a god, while the Doctor-As-Lonely-God theme is well-engrained into the Whoverse by now. I'm reasonably confident it'll lead to meaningful themes next week - and I'm increasingly convinced that Diagoras' atheism is going to turn out to be an important key to the plot.
(Deleted comment)
strange_complex
Apr. 22nd, 2007 08:36 pm (UTC)
Yeah - I normally like spoilers, but even I could have done without that one!
edling
Apr. 23rd, 2007 08:51 am (UTC)
Apropos of nothing much, but I think it was Tallulah Bankhead who came up with the amazing quote: 'My father warned me about men and booze... but he never said anything about women and cocaine'.
strange_complex
Apr. 23rd, 2007 08:56 am (UTC)
Yeah, that sounds like her! She was quite a little tearaway... :)
( 21 comments — Leave a comment )

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